Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My levels are good

Not too long ago I had blood drawn at work to help our lab get some normal values and some comparisons for some labs. They checked fasting lipid and iron levels. The lipids were Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, and LDL. The Iron studies were Iron, IBCT, % Saturation, Ferritin, Vitamin B12, and Folate. All my levels look great. (I looked up normal values.)

The 2 that interested me the most was Vitamin B12 and Folate. My levels were higher, which is good because that shows I got plenty in there and am not deficient right now. Taking high doses of folic acid is helping! My Vitamin B12 level was 895 pg/mL and the normal I found was 200-900 pg/mL. My Folate was >24 ng/mL and the normal I found for that was >2 ng/mL. I am curious if my levels before Carleigh were conceived were low and that is why she developed anencephaly, but I'll never know. I am hoping that with these higher levels in my body it will help prevent this from happening to us again.

Here's more about these tests (from
They measure the concentration of folate and vitamin B12 in the liquid portion of the blood, the serum. B12 and folate are both part of the B complex of vitamins. Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dry beans and peas, liver, and yeast; B12 is found in animal products such as red meat, fish, poultry, milk, and eggs. In recent years, fortified cereals, breads, and other grain products have also become important dietary sources of B12 and folate (identified as “folic acid” on nutritional labels).
Both B12 and folate are necessary for normal RBC formation, tissue and cellular repair, and DNA synthesis. B12 is also important for nerve health, while folate is necessary for cell division such as is seen in a fetus during pregnancy. A deficiency in either B12 or folate can lead to macrocytic anemia. Also called megaloblastic anemia, this condition is characterized by the production of fewer, but larger, RBCs called macrocytes. Macrocytes tend to have a shorter life span than normal RBCs and are more likely to hemolyze, leading to fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms of anemia. B12 deficiency can also lead to varying degrees of neuropathy, nerve damage that can cause tingling and numbness in the patient’s hands and feet. Folate deficiency during early pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly in a growing fetus.
There are a variety of causes of B12 and/or folate deficiencies. They include:
Insufficient intake- The human body stores several years worth of B12 in the liver, and it is readily available in the food supply, so a dietary deficiency of this vitamin is extremely rare in the U.S. It may be seen sometimes with general malnutrition and in vegan vegetarians - those who do not consume any animal products, including milk and eggs. It may also be seen in children and breastfed infants of vegan vegetarians. Since they do not have the stores that adults do, deficiencies in children and infants show up fairly quickly.
Folate used to be a common deficiency but with the advent of fortified cereals, breads, and grain products, it is less common. Since folate is stored in tissue in smaller quantities than B12, folate must be consumed more regularly than B12.
Malabsorption- Both B12 and Folate deficiencies may be seen with conditions that interfere with their absorption in the small intestine. These may include:
-Celiac disease
-Bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and intestines
-Reduced stomach acid production (stomach acid is necessary to separate B12 from the protein in food)
-Pernicious anemia, the most common cause of B12 deficiency. Normally a molecule called intrinsic factor is made by parietal cells that line the stomach. B12 binds to intrinsic factor in the stomach and then the resulting compound is absorbed in the intestines. With pernicious anemia, little or no intrinsic factor is produced, preventing the absorption of B12.
-Surgery that removes part of the stomach (and the parietal cells) or the intestines may greatly decrease absorption.
Increased loss- This may be seen with:
Liver and kidney disease
Alcoholism - with alcohol abuse, less B12 and folate are absorbed and more are excreted from the kidneys.
Anti-seizure medications such as phenytoin can decrease folate as can drugs such as metformin and methotrexate.
Increased need- All pregnant women need increased amounts of folate for proper fetal development. If a woman has a folate deficiency prior to pregnancy, it will be intensified during gestation and may lead to premature birth and neural tube birth defects in the child.

You don't need to worry if you are taking extra folic acid since both Vitamin B12 and folic acid are water soluble. Your body will rid itself of any excess by excreting it in the urine.


Alyson said...

Healthy as a horse :0)

Do you take any supplements???

The only ones I take now are Potassium Gluconate and Super B Complex......

Christina said...

That's great news!

Khanh said...

Hi Holly,
Which folate supplement did your doctor prescribed for you?
Mine prescribed Folgard.

Holly said...

I take a prescription prenatal called Vinate Ultra and it contains 1 mg folic acid. For my folic acid supplement I just take an OTC one that is 800 mcg each tablet. I take 4-5 of those a day.

Celia said...

Such good information. I too have wondered about my levels before getting pregnant with Noah....and I too will never know. Unfortunately, I DO know that I was taking a drug that lists NTD as a side effect and that it should not be taken if you even are considering pregnancy. Suffice it to say, that I sometimes blame myself for Noah's defect. I knew I should not have been taking it and still we did not try to prevent a pregnancy. It will probably always haunt me just a little. But, for good measure, I have decided to stay off that medication until we make the decision one way or the other about having more children.

So thanks for the info. It helps to have it. Also, I am so glad to hear that your levels were so good.

croleyc69 said...

So glad to hear your levels were good. I'm so happy for you. HUGS !!!

Linda said...

Ok Holly, you go again, ministering to people! ((smile))

By sharing this information on Folic acid and vitamin B Complex etc. you are helping ladies think about their need for these BEFORE they think about getting pregnant. And that is so good.

You have a "helping heart", and you are using your life to minister to others.

I love that about you!
I thank God for you!

I am always interested in what your next post will be. You are so interesting.

So, until next time,...God Bless You sweet Holly.

Take Care!
Love, Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Nickel Pickle said...

That is wonderful news.

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